Location: South west corner of Meridian and New York streets.
This church society, long known as Wesley Chapel M. E. Church, was the pioneer organization of the Methodist denomination in this city, and occupies toward the numerous family of Methodist churches in Indianapolis to-day, the relation of a tree to its branches.
To begin with the beginning of the history of this church, it is necessary to go back to the year 1822, when the Indianapolis Circuit of the Indiana District of the Methodist Episcopal Church was organized by Rev. William Cravens, who had been appointed to this circuit at the session of the Missouri Conference.
In 1825, the Missouri Conference was divided, the Illinois Conference was created, and the Indiana District became a part of the latter body.
In 1829, Indianapolis Station was formed. This station subsequently passed within the limits of the Madison District, created in 1830; of the Indiana Conference, created in 1832; and of the Indianapolis District of the latter Conference, created in 1833.
At the session of the Indiana Conference, held in Centerville, on the 19th of October, 1842, the Indianapolis Station was divided into two charges: The Western (Wesley Chapel), and the Eastern (Roberts Chapel).
At the session of the Indiana Conference, held in Madison, on the 16th October, 1845, the charge was again divived [sic], forming the central charge, (Wesley Chapel), and the western charge (Strange Chapel).
In 1870, the society took the name of Meridian street M. E. Church, from the location of their elegant new church edifice, now nearly completed.
For many years, the society, of which the present Meridian Street Church is the development and continuation, occupied as a house of worship the well-remembered Wesley Chapel building, on the south-west corner of Meridian and Circle streets. This familiar and weather-scarred structure, gave way, in the year 1869, for the erection of its site of the present Sentinel Building.
The society purchased a site on the south-west corner of Meridian and New York streets; on which a costly and artistic house of worship is now near completion. The basement has for sometime been occupied, and the edifice will be completed and dedicated during the present summer.
Between the dates of the abandonment of the Wesley Chapel building and of the occupation of the yet unfinished structure, the congregation worshiped in the building of the Second Universalist Church.
The circuit preachers, stationed, and presiding elders, have been as follows:
1821 -- Rev. William Cravens, Circuit Preacher. 1822-3, Samuel Hamilton, Presiding Elder; James Scott, Circuit Preacher. 1823-4, William Beauchamp, Presiding Elder; Jesse Hale and George Horn Circuit Preachers.
In 1825, on the division of the Missouri Conference, John Strange become [sic] Presiding Elder, and John Miller, Circuit Preacher. 1825-6, John Strange, Presiding Elder; Thomas Hewston, Circuit Preacher. 1826-7, John Strange, Presiding Elder; Edwin Ray, Circuit Preacher. 1827-8, John Strange, Presiding Elder; N. Griffith, Circuit Preacher. 1828-9, John Strange, President Elder; James Armstrong, Stationed Preacher. 1829 to 18232, Allen Wiley, Presiding Elder; Thos. Hitt, Stationed Preacher. 1832-33, John Strange, Presiding Elder; Benj. O. Stevenson, Stationed Preacher. 1833, Allen Wiley, Presiding Elder; C. W. Ruter, Stationed Preacher. 1833-4, James Havens, Presiding Elder; C. W. Ruter, Stationed Preacher; 1834-5, Jas. Havens, Presiding Elder; J. C. Smith, Stationed Preacher. 1836-7, James Havens, Presiding Elder; A. Eddy, Stationed Preacher. 1837-8, A. Eddy, Presiding Elder; J. C. Smith, Stationed Preacher. 1838-9, A. Eddy, Presiding Elder; A. Wiley, Stationed Preacher; 1839-40, A. Eddy, Presiding Elder; A. Wiley, Stationed Preacher. 1840-1, James Havens, Presiding Elder; W. H. Goode, Stationed Preacher. 1841-2, James Havens, Presiding Elder; W. H. Good, Stationed Preacher.
1842-3 -- "Indianapolis station" having been divided into two charges, James Havens was appointed Presiding Elder, and L. H. Berry Stationed Preacher, of the Western charge (Wesley Chapel).
1843-4 -- Same appointments. A building committee, consisting of Alfred Harrison, Thos. Rickards, and Bentley Alley, was appointed to erect a parsonage building on the church lot.
1844-5 -- L. W. Berry, Presiding Elder, and W. W. Hibben, stationed preacher, Superintendent Sabbath-Schools, J. J. Drum, A. W. Morris and Mrs. Eliza Drum.
1845-6 -- L. W. Berry, Presiding Elder; Wm. V. Daniels, Stationed Preacher.
1846-7 -- Rev. E. R. Ames, Presiding Elder, and W. V. Daniels Stationed Preachers [sic]. Salary of Stationed Preacher, $550.
1847-8 -- Rev. E. R. Ames, Presiding Elder; Rev. F. C. Holliday, Stationed Preacher. Same Salary.
1848-9 -- Same appointments. Salary of Preacher increased to $600.
1849-50 -- Rev. E. R. Ames, Presiding Elder; Rev. J. S. Bayless, Stationed Preacher. Salary of latter, $500.
1850-51 -- Rev. C. W. Ruter, Presiding Elder; Rev. B. F. Crary Stationed Preacher. Salary, $600.
1851-2 -- James Havens, Presiding Elder; Giles E. Smith, Stationed Preacher.
1852-3 -- B. F. Crary, Presiding Elder; John Kurns, Stationed Preacher. Salary of preacher, $700.
1853-4 -- B. F. Crary, Presiding Elder; J. P. Linderman, Stationed Preacher.
1854-5 -- B. F. Crary, Presiding Elder; James H. Noble, Stationed Preacher.
1856-7 -- W. C. Smith, Presiding Elder; James Hill, Stationed Preacher.
1858-9 -- Wm. C. Smith, Presiding Elder; E. T. Fletcher, Stationed Preacher.
1860-2 -- Jas. H. Noble, Presiding Elder; C. D. Battelle, Stationed Preacher.
1862-4 -- Jas. Hill, Presiding Elder; S. T. Gillett, Stationed Preacher.
1864-6 -- James Hill, Presiding Elder; Wm. McK. Hester, Stationed Preacher.
1866-7 -- S. T. Gillett, Presiding Elder; Wm. McK. Hester, Stationed Preacher.
1867-8 -- S. T. Gillett, Presiding Elder; C. N. Sims, Stationed Preacher.
1868-70 -- B. F. Rawlins, Presiding Elder; C. N. Sims, Stationed Preacher.
1870-71 -- B. F. Rawlins, Presiding Elder; R. Andrus, Stationed Preacher.
The present membership of the church numbers five hundred and four; that of the Sabbath-School, four hundred and eighty-nine.
The pastoral labor is performed by Rev. Reuben Andrus.
The following persons constitute the "Official Board," who, in their respective departments, supply the work of the church:
Trustees--Oliver Tousey, Ingram Fletcher, A. Ballard, V. T. Malott, Daniel Stewart, J. H. Ross, Jacob P. Dunn, Dr. H. E. Carey, C. W. Smith
Stewards--J. F. Ramsey, J. C. Yohn, T. P. Haughey, Jason Carey, Aaron Ohr, J. M. Ridenour, F. A. W. Davis, J. H. Colclazer, J. H. Osborn.
Class Leaders--R. Ferguson, T. P. Baughey, A. Ballard, R. S. Carr, I. Taylor, B. V. Enos.
Local Preachers--E. T. Fletcher, T. A. Goodwin, J. C. McCoy, R. Ferguson.
Committees. Missionary--J. M. Ridenour, C. W. Smith, Charles Dennis, Wilson Morrow.
Sunday-School--Dr. H. G. Cary, C. W. Smith, R. S. Carr.
Tract Cause--R. Ferguson, J. H. Ross, Aaron Ohr.
The principal officers of the Sabbath-School are:
Superintendents--Wilson Morrow, H. G. Carey, Mrs. Theo. P. Haughey.
Secretaries--J. H. Colclazer, Miss Annie Dunlop.
Treasurer--J. S. Carey.
Fifty per cent. of the entire school are adults, and about one-half of the membership of the church, including twenty-three of the active members of the official board, are engaged in the Sabbath-School.
The church edifice has a front of seventy-three feet on Meridian street, and a depth of one hundred and twenty-one feet on New York street. Its walls, towers and buttresses are built of a bluish-looking lime stone, with cut-stone trimmings, and irregularly laid and neatly pointed. The style of its architecture is the Modern Gothic; after designs of Messrs. Eunos & Huebner, of this city. Externally the principal feature of the building is the front, the center of which is flanked on either side by a graceful, buttressed tower, terminating in a lofty spire (not yet completed). The center terminates in a high gable, surmounted by the Rock of Ages -- the Cross of Christ. On each side of the center are wings, whose corners are strengthened and ornamented by buttressed turrets. The sides of the walls are also buttressed.
The entrance is by three large doors, whose arches are supported by richly ornamented columns. Above the entrance is a large and very beautiful rose window, elaborately ornamented. The entrance is into a spacious vestibule, leading into the lecture room in the first story, and into the audience room in the second story. The first story contains the lecture room, sixty-two by forty-six feet; two infant class rooms, ladies' parlors, the class room, and the pastor's study. The windows of this story are all of beautiful stained glass. From the rear of the first story a long winding stairway leads to the audience room.
But it is the decorations and appointments of the audience-room that this edifice especially excels. Its dimensions are sixty-six by eighty-seven feet. Its height at the sides is twenty-six feet;, at the center, forty-three feet. The ceiling is highly ornamented. The pews, which are of elegant pattern and finish, are curvilinearly arranged. The most artistic features are its elaborately ornamented windows, each one of which typifies in its design, some one of the prominent attributes of the Christian religion. This room will easily seat one thousand person.
The total cost of the property will be about $100,000.
Holloway, W. R., Indianapolis, a Historical and Statistical Sketch of the Railroad City, a Chronicle of Its Social, Municipal, Commercial and Manufacturing Progress, with Full Statistical Tables, © 1870, pp. 226-228.